I awoke from my sleep last night with a great burden upon my mind. I was delivering a message to our brethren and sisters, and it was a message of warning and instruction concerning the work of some who are advocating erroneous theories as to the reception of the Holy Spirit, and its operation through human agencies.
I was instructed that fanaticism similar to that which we were called to meet after the passing of the time in 1844 would come in among us again in the closing days of the message, and that we must meet this evil just as decidedly now as we met it in our early experiences.
We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. Strange and eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven,--events which it was declared should shortly precede the great day of God. Everything in the world is in an unsettled state. The nations are angry, and great preparations for war are being made. Nation is plotting against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. The great day of God is hasting greatly. But although the nations are mustering their forces for war and bloodshed, the command to the angels is still in force, that they hold the four winds until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads.
The world is now realizing the sure results of transgression of the law of God. His work of creation completed, the Lord rested on the seventh day, and sanctified the day of his rest, setting it apart as the day which man should devote to his worship. But to-day the world at large is utterly disregarding the law of Jehovah. Another day has been instituted in the place of God's day of rest. The human agent has set his way and his will against the positive teachings of the Word, and the world is plunged in rebellion and sin.
This work of opposition to the law of God had its beginning in the courts of heaven, with Lucifer, the covering cherub. Satan determined to be first in the councils of heaven, and equal with God. He began his work of rebellion with the angels under his command, seeking to diffuse among them the spirit of discontent. And he worked in so deceptive a way that many of the angels were won to his allegiance before his purposes were fully known. Even the loyal angels could not fully discern his character, nor see to what his work was leading. When Satan had succeeded in winning many angels to his side, he took his cause to God, representing that it was the desire of the angels that he occupy the position that Christ held.
The evil continued to work until the spirit of disaffection ripened into active revolt. Then there was war in heaven, and Satan, with all who sympathized with him, was cast out. Satan had warred for the mastery in heaven, and had lost the battle. God could no longer trust him with honor and supremacy, and these, with the part he had taken in the government of heaven, were taken from him.
Since that time Satan and his army of confederates have been the avowed enemies of God in our world, continually warring against the cause of truth and righteousness. Satan has continued to present to men, as he presented to the angels, his false representations of Christ and of God, and he has won the world to his side. Even the professedly Christian churches have taken sides with the first great apostate.
Satan represents himself as the prince of the kingdom of this world, and it was in this character that he approached Christ in the last of his three great temptations in the wilderness. "If thou wilt fall down and worship me," he said to the Saviour, "all these" -- pointing to the kingdoms of the world which Satan had caused to pass before Jesus -- "will I give thee."
Christ in the courts of heaven had known that the time would come when the power of Satan must be met and conquered if the human race was ever to be saved from his dominion. And when that time came, the Son of God laid off his kingly crown and royal robe, and clothing his divinity with humanity, came to the earth to meet the prince of evil, and to conquer him. In order to become the advocate of man before the Father, the Saviour would live his life on earth as every human being must, accepting its adversities and sorrows and temptations. As the Babe of Bethlehem, he would become one with the race, and by a spotless life from the manager to the cross he would show that man, by a life of repentance and faith in him, might be restored to the favor of God. He would bring to man redeeming grace, forgiveness of sins. If men would return to their loyalty, and no longer transgress, they would receive pardon.
Christ in the weakness of humanity was to meet the temptations of one possessing the powers of the higher nature that God had bestowed on the angelic family. But Christ's humanity was united with divinity, and in this strength he would bear all the temptations that Satan could bring against him, and yet keep his soul untainted by sin. And this power to overcome he would give to every son and daughter of Adam who would accept by faith the righteous attributes of his character.
God loved the world so dearly that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever would accept him might have power to live his righteous life. Christ proved that it is possible for man to lay hold by faith on the power of God. He showed that the sinner, by repentance and the exercise of faith in the righteousness of Christ, can be reconciled to God, and become a partaker of the divine nature, overcoming the corruption that is in the world through lust.
To-day Satan presents the same temptations that he presented to Christ, offering us the kingdoms of the world in return for our allegiance. But upon him who looks to Jesus as the author and finisher of his faith, Satan's temptations have no power. He can not cause to sin the one who will accept by faith the virtues of him who was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He who repents of his sin and accepts the gift of the life of the Son of God, can not be overcome. Laying hold by faith of the divine nature, he becomes a child of God. He prays, he believes. When tempted and tried, he claims the power that Christ died to give, and overcomes through his grace. This every sinner needs to understand. He must repent of his sin, he must believe in the power of Christ, and accept that power to save and to keep him from sin. How thankful ought we to be for the gift of Christ's example!
Profound theories and speculations of human creation may abound, but he who would come off conqueror in the end, must be humble enough to depend upon divine power. When we thus grasp the power of Infinity, and come to Christ, saying, "In my hand no price I bring; simply to thy cross I cling," then divine agencies can co-operate with us to sanctify and purify the life.
Let no one seek to evade the cross. It is through the cross that we are enabled to overcome. It is through affliction and trial that divine agencies can carry on a work in our lives that will result in the love and peace and kindness of Christ.
A great work is to be accomplished daily in the human heart by the study of the Word. We need to learn the simplicity of true faith. This will bring its returns. Let us seek for decided advancement in spiritual understanding. Let us make the precious Word the man of our counsel. We need to walk carefully every moment, keeping close to the side of Christ. The spirit and grace of Christ are needed in the life, and the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
We need to understand clearly the divine requirements that God makes of his people. The law, which is the transcript of his character, no one need fail to understand. The words written by the finger of God on tables of stone so perfectly reveal his will concerning his people that none need make any mistake. The laws of his kingdom were definitely made known, to be afterward revealed to the people of all nations and tongues as the principles of his government. We would do well to study those laws recorded in Exodus 20 and in the thirty-first chapter, verses 12-18.
When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books, then the tables of stone, hidden by God until that day, will be presented before the world as the standard of righteousness. Then men and women will see that the prerequisite of their salvation is obedience to the perfect law of God. None will find excuse for sin. By the righteous principles of that law, men will receive their sentence of life or of death.